Book Review: How to Eat Fried Worms

I bet it’s no surprise that Squish picked up books about worms while we were at the library last week. Mud and worms seem to be our life right now, and it is awesome. When we got to the library he announced that he needed worm books and I needed to find them for him while he built a tower of Lego’s in the toy corner. On a whim I threw “How to Eat Fried Worms” on the pile. I know he is too young for it, but I had fond memories of reading it as a kid. Plus it obviously has worms in it.

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I realize that this book has been around forever, and there are probably a kajillian reviews on it. I honestly did not think that it would be his favorite. This is only the second chapter book that we have read, the first being “Wind in the Willows” . He loved that one, but often fell asleep as I was reading it. Which was my goal picking such a wordy book, lol. With “How to Eat Fried Worms”, though,  he couldn’t wait for the next chapter. I actually had to tell him before hand how many chapters we were going to read.

Now, if you are like me, you have not read “How to Eat Fried Worms” in a very long time *cough, cough* decades. I knew that it was about a bet and eating worms, but the details were… fuzzy.  This book has been around since 1933, and there is a reason that it is still a childhood favorite. It_Is_Hilarious! I really can not wait for when Squishy reads it himself when he gets a bit older, so he can really understand all the underlying messages. This time,though, we just enjoyed the humor, and kept our “adult think” out of it.
I can say for sure that some of the quirky humor is more pronounced when you read it out loud. Like when the boys are presenting the first worm. They are talking in what they think is a hoity-toity accent. Reading it out loud gives their antics weight and life, and makes it so much funnier. It reminds me of listening to my dad’s stories about his childhood. I am pretty sure this kind of bet happened between him and his friends. More than once my husband has come into Squishy’s room during our evening reading time to find out what all the laughter was about.

Even though we were not delving  into the nuances of “How to Eat Fried Worms”, it did open up some serious conversations about fairness, cheating and being true to your word. When Allan and Joe were arguing with Tom about getting the worm from the manure pile, Squishy was outraged. Even at four he saw the injustice in using worms that live in poo. We had closed the book at that point. First he laughed, because, well…Poop. Poop in any form is funny to a little boy. Then he remembered that daddy had said worms would just taste like dirt,because that is what they eat. He put two and two together, and could not believe that they would want to feed their friend poop worms. Then when the boys cheated, he was livid! Again we closed the book and talked about what had happened. If you couldn’t tell, Squish is routing for Billy. I mean, of course he is. Squish is the boy who traded his neighbor two shiny rocks for a Little Tikes “mini bike”.

I found myself rooting for Billy’s mom. How awesome was she!?! I love how she is so supportive of him, and doesn’t fly off the handle when she learns about the worms and the bet. I don’t know many moms who could handle that kind of news.  Once she conferred with the Dr, she let Billy work it out on his own. Giving him the freedom to succeed or fail on his own. To me, that is much scarier than eating a worm.

If you haven’t read this one in a while, or if it is completely new to you, I highly recommend reading it out loud. It gives the old tale a whole new dimension.We did pick out a couple other fun worm books, as well:

“Compost: A family Guide to Making Soil from Scraps” by Ben Raskin

This book is such a fun, hands on book to teach little ones about composting. We are buying this one for our shelves. Since it was a library book we didn’t get to really play with all the stickers and pop outs that come with it. It was so tempting, though! You may hear me or Squish refer to the “Worm Lover’s Society”. This book is where we gleaned the idea from.

“Wiggling Worms at Work”

“An Earthworm’s Life”

Normally I like to come up with some kind of activity, or recipe to go along with Squishy’s favorite book. Short of actually eating worms (…um, no!) making muddy cups, with chocolate pudding and gummy worms, is always fun. Unfortunately, Squish does not like the texture of pudding and ends up just eating the gummy worms out. We could add worms to his compost pile, if we hadn’t done that two weeks ago. So we made Worm Hotels, and woke up early to dig for worms. I love activities that require very little prep or participation on my part. I will be doing a tutorial on the “Worm Hotel” very soon. It was such an easy activity that I didn’t even think to document it. So stay tuned, and happy reading!

 


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